Prep 30 mins
Cook 2 hrs
After having lived in Syria for the past year for school, I learned how to make several authentic dishes. They will probably taste different outside the Middle East due to the availability of items seasonally and brands of ingredients used. This dish is a blend of carrots, peas and meat in a tomato-based broth that is served with Middle Eastern-style rice. Arabs are used to having family over--it's a family based culture--so it's meant to be shared.
- 1 (16 ounce) bag frozen peas, any brand. Can also use good quality dry peas as well
- 1 large onion
- 1 (16 ounce) bag carrots, whole, not baby carrots
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste (Durra in the Middle East, I use Contadina)
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 1 1⁄2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed lamb may be used as well
- salt and pepper, to taste
- season salt (optional)
- 6 cups water, in 2-cup increments
- 2 beef bouillon cubes (Maggi in the Middle East, I use Wylers)
- Cut onion in to small pieces. Do not mince or chop too finely, but at the same time, do not cut or chop too coarsely. Set aside.
- Wash carrots and cut them into 1/4" thick pieces. Basically, you don't want them too thin or they will disintegrate into the broth. You can peel them if you prefer, before cutting. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan, brown the meat with some seasoning salt and pepper. Add the onion and some olive oil from the bottle. Make sure all the meat is brown. Set aside.
- In a stew pan, fry the 3 tbsp of tomato paste in the 1/4 cup olive oil for about 5-8 minutes. If it seems dry-looking, add a small amount of extra oil at a time. It should look chunky in the oil, not runny like soup. Stir constantly, it will burn very fast!
- Reduce the heat, add first 2 cups of water. Stand back, it may spit at you! Keep adding until all 6 cups have been added. Add the soup cubes. Let this boil for 5 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan, making sure all of the tomato paste mixes in the water.
- Add the meat, carrots and peas. Allow to come to a boil (takes about 5 minutes) then reduce heat to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Cook until meat is tender. Cooking time depends on the quality of meat.
- Serve with Middle Eastern rice.
- Extra water may be added to counter-act any saltiness or if too much evaporated out while cooking.
- Cooking times may vary depending on stove type. Just keep on eye on it and never walk away from cooking food! Stainless steel or a non-stick pan may be used. I prefer non-stick. This may also be transferred to a large crock pot and set on low. Yield depends on how much water is allowed to boil out, but pretty much it makes a lot! Count on leftovers if you're not having people over.
Made for PAC Fall 2011. I had to wait until were giving a dinner party before making this recipe. As Mustafa's Cook mentioned, many Middle Eastern recipes are designed to feed an extended family. We had several appetizers, two entrees (this and a fish dish), two vegetable side dishes and desert. The portion size (6) is quite accurate.
The flavor and texture is wonderful, what you'd expect from a braising style of preparation. The meat was tender to the point where no knife was needed. The veggies both flavored the broth and absorbed flavor from it. We served this over rice (using a Syrian recipe), so the liquid was absorbed into the bed of rice, creating another layer of flavor.
We used a cast iron pot on the stovetop, but, as noted, this could easily be done in a slow cooker or in a pot in the oven. In North Africa, this kind of meal would be prepared in a tagine, using similar principles.
If you do use a slow cooker, you may want to use less water, since the slow cooker principle is based on heat surrounding the meal being cooked without needing a large volume of water. Most slow cooker instructions will give you guidance on how to adjust recipes in this way.
This may not be an "every day" recipe in our culture, but for weekends, family events and special dinners, this is a definite keeper. Thanks, Mustafa's Cook, for sharing!